New Jersey residents rush to get COVID-19 tests as Christmas approaches
New Jersey residents are running out to get tested for COVID-19 as Christmas approaches. But those tests seem to be coming up short.
This comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the omicron variant of the virus now makes up about 75% of all new cases.
New Jersey is seeing COVID levels that have not been seen since January. State health officials say that there have been around 6,000 new positive cases per day for the last five days in a row.
Hospitalizations are also up, with more than 1,900 patients in New Jersey hospitals with COVID-19-related ailments – about 20% of which are in intensive care. But those numbers are not as high as they were this time last year. More than 3,600 people were in the hospital on Dec. 20, 2020.
Gov. Phil Murphy says that the state is working to meet the growing demand for COIVD-19 tests. The state has listed about 100 free locations for people to get tested.
But some locations are turning people away because there are not enough appointments.
"We are turning away about 70-80 patients because we're fully booked,” says Stacey Silva, owner of Your Kids Urgent Care.
Silva says they are fully booked for the next eight days. The clinic is already testing about 100 people a day – children and adults.
"We are seeing people coming in droves and they're coming in quickly. They're coming from far, some people are calling from an hour away because they can't get into anywhere else,” Silva says.
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There were dozens of cars lined up at a testing site in Oakland on Monday evening and all around the state.
The rapid home tests are also in short supply.
“We have reached out to Abbot, and they expect their inventory to increase in the next two to three weeks,” says state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
But this will be after the holidays.
It was early in September when President Joe Biden vowed that these tests would be more widely available.
"I’ll use the defense production act to increase production of rapid tests, including those you can use at home,” the president said.
And while some may want a test as soon as possible for peace of mind, most are telling Silva that they're getting tested because they think they've been exposed.
"I have a family who we tested last week, this is their second time getting COVID and they're vaccinated. So we see a lot of it, and we see a lot of breakthrough cases, unfortunately,” Silva says.
She says that when she followed up with these families, it seems their cases are not as severe.
Avoiding breakthrough cases is about timing. New research finds that those who got vaccinated six months ago are at least three times more likely to get the virus. Anyone who had the Johnson & Johnson shot is also more likely to get COVID-19. The study found that getting a booster shot is the best defense.